Green papaya salad is a classic and popular Vietnamese dish throughout Southeast Asia. The dish is made from unripe Southeast Asian papayas, which have firm white flesh and white seeds.
Over the years the popularity of Vietnamese and Thai food in the United States has increased these papayas' availability, although they are still generally limited to Asian markets. Such papayas can grow to the size of cantaloupes or larger and range in shape from oval to round.
When you go shopping, look for rock-hard, dark green fruit without a trace of pink or yellow blush. If you don't see any in our local store, ask for assistance since not all shopkeepers display them.
If you are able to find Southeast Asian green papayas for this recipe, your family and friends will be treated to a salad that is sweet, spicy, crunchy, cool, refreshing and, well, irresistible!
Yield: Makes 4 servings
- 1⁄4 pound small shrimp (about 9), shelled
- 1 large garlic clove, forced through a garlic press
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (preferably nuoc mam)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 small thin fresh red or green Asian chili (1 to 2 inches long) or serrano chili, or to taste, seeded and chopped finely (wear rubber gloves)
- 3⁄4 pound green papaya, peeled, seeded, and coarsely shredded, preferably in a food processor (about 3 cups)
- 1 carrot, shredded finely
- 1⁄3 cup fresh coriander leaves, washed well and spun dry
- 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed
In a small saucepan of boiling salted water cook shrimp 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until cooked through. In a colander drain shrimp and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Halve shrimp horizontally and devein.
In a large bowl whisk together dressing ingredients until sugar is dissolved.
Add shrimp, papaya, carrot and coriander to dressing, tossing well. Salad may be made 2 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.
Serve salad sprinkled with peanuts.
-A green mango substitutes well for a green papaya.
-For those allergic to peanuts, almonds are a good substitute.
-To give the dish an extra zing, add an additional tablespoon of minced ginger, replace the coriander leaves with finely sliced Thai basil or mint leaves and a tad more lime juice to the dressing.